There most common form of humiliation in school is bullying. According to the research conducted by Frey and Fisher (2008), bullying is believed to be part of life and something that cannot be avoided. Differences of age and size between the victim and the perpetrator greatly contribute to bullying. Bullying is also characterized by verbal abuse in relation to the victim’s sexual orientation, and some physical torture. Nonetheless, bullying is usually perpetrated against beginners or those students who have just joined another school. Humiliation is felt by the victim as a result of avoidance, relational bullying and male or female aggression. Bullying exists in schools, especially in secondary schools, due to the perception that verbal scornss and teasing are de facto aspects of school life (Frey and Fisher, 2008).
Peer humiliation breeds feelings of shame. As a result bullied students will react by either avoiding the perpetrators or acting violently towards them. Verbal retaliation can also be used by the victim. In other cases, students try to evade the situation either by pretending as if they have never been humiliated or avoiding some places frequently visited by the bullies. Other students literally avoid attending lessons or going to school due to fear of being scorned or laughed at. Frey and Fisher (2008) note that the rates at which adolescent students don’t attend school for fear of being bullied are very high. Other students avoid using their usual paths to school for fear of being bullied again. Research conducted by Frey and Fisher showed that most teachers were aware of the bullying activities that happened in the school. However, other teachers were not aware of the bullying that existed while others felt it wise not to get involved in the bullying which is a de facto element in adolescents. Other teachers encourage bullying on grounds that it is at times a way of shaping the conduct and performance of some students (Frey and Fisher, 2008).
Teachers cause humiliation of students through their behavior (Frey and Fisher, 2008). Teachers use humiliation or sarcasm to embarrass students in front of the class. There are some teachers who burst students in the presence of their peers for using insulting language or failing a test or a quiz by calling out the results loud. Humiliated students are usually demoralized from attending classes of such teachers or working hard in those subjects. According to Frey and Fisher (2008), sarcasm creates learning complexities due to the decline of the morale to study and complete assignments, class avoidance and contemplations of dropping out of school.
The use of sarcasm often breeds a contemptuous attitude towards the teacher which may eventually lead to feelings of anger towards them. Students who feel that the teacher has greatly offended them usually end up shunning away from such teachers and missing their classes. The self-esteem of some students is usually lowered since they feel that their estimation in the right-thinking students is lowered (Frey and Fisher, 2008). The aspect of anticipatory embarrassment is usually bred in some students. They avoid associating with the teacher for fear of being humiliated again. They will not therefore seek any consultation in case of failure to comprehend the subject. There are some students, however, who take the humiliation positively and decide to work harder in those subjects in order to impress their teachers and prove to other students that they are smart. Others change their conduct for the better (Frey and Fisher, 2008).
Adverse effects of humiliation include dropping out of school, attendance problems, suicide, pregnancy and alcohol and drug abuse (Frey and Fisher, 2008). Students who have been humiliated in school have resorted to the use of drugs and alcohol as a result of contempt towards school and the inferiority complex. Some students drop out of school for fear of being ridiculed or embarrassed again. The student avoids attending lessons or school on some days in order to evade ridicules. Some students opt to get pregnant so that they get a chance of leaving school. Students who are persistently and helplessly ridiculed by their peers and teachers end up developing suicidal tendencies. Some commit suicide in desperate and hopeless circumstances due to feelings of rejection which lower their self-esteem (Frey and Fisher, 2008).
I felt humiliated most of the time by my fellow students and teachers while I was in secondary school. There is this teacher in eighth grade who repeatedly called every student in class with humiliating nicknames. He referred to me as ‘SPED’ (Special Education) because I once scored below her expectations. This label had a great troubling impact on me. I used to feel very uneasy in her English class due to fear of being humiliated every time. I never participated in answering questions. I was so demoralized that at times I dodged classes. Our class marked the lowest performance in the English subject. This is because everybody had developed a contemptuous attitude towards the teacher. Some students thought that she was just trying to be smarter than any other teacher; others felt that she hated our class; others knew that she was right and we were all disabled. Since we all had that negative mentality, learning became difficult. My performance was always poorest in English, even though I was among the best performers in the subject. I feared the teacher and always dodged whenever I saw her coming my way. The more she repeatedly called me SPED, the more I contemplated avoidance and quitting. However, I persevered until I completed secondary school. Until I encountered another English teacher full of compassion and motivating spirit my morale to pursue the subject had been lowered by my secondary school teacher.
Frey, Nancy & Douglas, Fisher. “The Under-Appreciated Role of Humiliation in the Middle School”.